Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sick Little Video From Black Rock

Brison started physical therapy yesterday. He grabbed his bikes and started wrenching on them last night after dinner. I'm taking that as a good sign...

Here is a video from a local boy at a local place.

A nice little mid week pick-me-up.


Alan Thompson on

Rubber Side Down,

Big E

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Miss Placed Wings and The Winter Solstice

I spent most of yesterday afternoon in the ER with Brison "Superman" Monroe getting him patched up after a jump gone wrong up at Black Rock Mountain Bike Park.

The arm bone thingy should be up near the shoulder blade thingy...
He's doing okay all things considered. It took a long time for Andrew (His brother and EMT for the day.) to get him down the hill and to the hospital. But he did a great job in making sure his brother got there safe and still in one piece.

Once he got to the hospital B had to wait a long time to get fixed. They had to wait for the results from the ton of x-rays they took to make sure nothing else was wrong. Along with making sure he was doped up enough to pop it back into place.

The nurses and doctors did a wonderful job and I thank them for patching the boy back up. I'm sure he'll be able to fly another day. Just not in the near future....

B still groggy from the doctor putting his arm back into place.
 Please take a moment and watch the most excellent video stylings of the Brothers Production Company LLC:

Hopefully his bike won't look like this next time.

So that was the excitement for the week (Hopefully)...
 But I wanted to talk about the Winter Solstice too.

Today is the shortest day of the year. Less and less light has shone through our windows. Giving us that much needed vitamin D and kept up our sunny domineers. Long shadows have been cast out on the roadways and trails as we go for rides. Which is simultaneously beautiful and sad.

I've often said that I can handle the rain and cold of Oregon winters but I sure wish it could be light as long as it is in the summer time. That would be awesome!

But we don't have to think about that as much now. Because it's only going to get more light from here.

Happy Winter Solstice everybody...

Summer here we come!

Rubber side down (That means you too Brison...),

Big E


Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Cycling Gift Ideas: The Bigger Stuff

I have been amazed at how many people I've talked in the last week or so that said that they haven't even started their Christmas shopping yet. So when my instincts told me that it was probably to late to put out a part two to the list. I just told my instincts that they had shit for brains and I was going to do it anyway (I'm a rebel like that.) So just to give everyone a bit of fair warning. The last list that I came up with was the smaller, less expensive gifts. But this list is going to have larger, more expensive stuff on there. Not to say everything is ridiculous. But it definitely leans towards the hundreds versus tens. You've been warned...

So here we go.

1. Lezyne Multi Tool

Pure pretty in a tool.
My super hot smoking wife got me one of these last year for Xmas and I love it. Has one of the best chain tools I've ever seen on a multi tool at any price. $25-45

2.Bontrager Glo and Ember Blinky Lights

A super hand dandy light.

The Glo (Head light) and Ember (Tail light) are really convenient "be seen" lights that strap onto just about anywhere. They are very simple. Run on one 2232 battery. And have a solid or blinking mode. Good stuff. $12 each

3. Feedback Sports Elite Work Stand

This is the best portable bike stand on the market. Period. It's light, works flawlessly and can take a lot of punishment. Honestly one of my favorite bike tools. A little spendy. But totally worth it if you like to wrench. $225
4. Lemond Revolution Trainer

The Lemond Fitness Revolution trainer has taken the traditional trainer and put it on its ear. No longer do you have to wear out tires spinning away in your basement. Or worry about your race wheels while warming up before the big day. It's a clever design. Very stable. And while a little more than a lot of the trainers out there. They at least didn't price themselves out of the market at $500.

5. Campagnolo "Big" Corkscrew

It occurred to me on the last list that I was giving the beer drinker on the list a pretty cool present. But completely ignored the wine connoisseur. But no more! The "Big" Campagnolo corkscrew is like the holy grail of wine openers. It's big, beautiful, and Italian. And it comes in a really cool box. All this for the bargain price of $170 (What did you expect!? They're Italian.)

6. Banjo Brothers Commuter Backpack

Commuter Backpack, Large
This backpack is waterproof, has a cavernous main compartment that has a liner to keep your things dry. A side pocket for a U-lock and several smaller pockets for little things. The two vertical stripes are reflective material and it is designed to hang low enough on your back so you can look back to see the street and not just more backpack. $90

7. Yakima Holdup Bike Rack

The Holdup rack is a hitch mounted rack that lets you keep all the wheels on. As well as the rack never touching a painted surface. It can fit BMX, road, 26" and 29" MTB tires all groovy like. And it's got a bottle opener. Nuff said... $400

8. Custom Built Wheels

This is Sugar Wheel Works up in Portland
There is nothing like a set of custom built wheels. I would encourage anyone who is interested to build their own. It is a trick process to do. But very gratifying and totally worth it.

If that's not your cup of tea. Have a professional build them up with the components that you select. Please use your Local Bike Shop (my LBS) whenever possible.  If not, someone like Sugar Wheel Works are caring and thorough.  $500 +

9. Bicycle Tool Set

A tool set like this one from Park Tools will let you tear down and build up just about any bike. It may not have every tool you'll ever need. Things like cup presses and derailleur realignment tools. But it will take care of 99% of it. $207

10. Coaching

That's my coach (Omer Kem)  up front. And another great coach right behind him (Graham Howard).
 Coaching is one of those things that you get out of it what you put into it. But that being said. If you need encouragement, have a real desire to improve and are disciplined. Coaching is an great thing to get the best cyclist out of you.  (Price really depends on what sort of package you want.)

So theres list number two! I hope it saves some one's bacon for a last minute Christmas present for the cyclist on your holiday shopping list.

Thanks for reading.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bontrager Aeolus 5 D3 Carbon Clincher Review

A quick note: Sorry its been so long gang. Life has a funny way of getting in the way. I should be back on here with a little more regularity. Thanks for hanging around. Now, on with the show....

The new Bontrager Aeolus 5 D3 carbon clinchers (Photo credit:Andi)

This last Tuesday I got a chance to take the newly designed Bontrager Aeolus 5 D3 wheelset out for a spin.

Initial Impressions:

They look very nice. In fact at a distant glance (20 yards or so.) I first thought they were Lightwieghts. But once I was closer and saw the white hubs (A nice visual detail in its own right.) it was obvious what they were.

White DT Swiss made hubs.
 It also became very apparent that these were completely redesigned from the two previous wheels under the Aeolus model name.

Instead of taking a box style carbon clincher rim and gluing a thin carbon fairing over the top (Like the later two designs.). The D3 is formed as one whole unit.  Which gave them the ability to use exposed nipples (Huh, huh I said exposed nipples...) instead of the hidden ones that were incorporated in the old design. And if you own a pair of the older models you know they are a pain in the ass they are. Especially if you need to true your wheel and you own the tubular version like me (Fail.).

The new design is a one piece hoop.

 They also are going the same design route as Zipp, HED and several other manufactures and created a much wider wheel than in the past. They went from 21mm to a 27 mm wide rim. I had to widen the brake calipers on my bike substantially to get them to fit. According to the propaganda the new width is supposed to help with aerodynamics as well as cornering.

The aerodynamics of the new design are improved by keeping the leading edge surface of the tire/wheel interface as smooth as possible. I.E. Getting rid of the bumps to cut down on wind turbulence as it flows across the wheel.

The second idea with the wider tire is to have a larger contact patch on the ground while cornering. Larger patch, more grip. More grip, go faster. Pretty simple idea. But the other part about having the wheel wider is that it keeps the tire's sidewall from flexing as much, or as quickly. Effectively making the tire squat down (therefore the sidewall gets smaller.) to bridge the gap between the rim edges.

The Pros:
Even though I've only had a few days to ride on them I must admit I think the new engineering is correct. These D3's are a real pleasure. They gripped the road confidently. Without much hint of lateral wheel flex. The wheels spun up quickly. The bearings were another real pleasant surprise.  DT Swiss hubs laced 18 spokes up front and 24 in the rear. I was amazed at how smoothly the wheels rolled down the road. Compared to my first generation Aeolus (Also with DT Swiss hubs.) these D3's spun shockingly well (Note to self. Check into replacement bearings for my wheels...).

The braking surface was also a great characteristic that was quickly apparent. I've ridden brand new, out of the box carbon wheels that had at least a little brake pulse or chatter when the brakes were applied. These Bontragers were exceptionally smooth. I didn't ride them in the rain. So I couldn't comment about wet braking performance. But I'm sure they're like most other carbon wheels in that respect (Terrifying...).

The D3's are a very competitive weight at 1550 grams for the pair. Which makes them not as light as some aero carbon clinchers on the market. But there are certainly heavier brands out there too. However, almost all other brands have a maximum weight limit on them (usually between 170-185lbs.). Bontrager doesn't have any weight restrictions on any of their wheels. That's a big plus for us "larger" fellas out there. You can ride and race them without having that little voice in the back of your head telling you at any moment you could have a catastrophic failure. Piece of mind is worth a lot. But...

The Cons:

There really are only two things that detract from this wheelset.

The first being the price. At $2700.00 MSRP the D3's are very expensive. In fact, with the exception of a couple "custom" brands. They are the most expensive carbon clinchers on the market (At least as far as my searches took me.) That's a big enough obstacle to be a deal breaker for a lot of people.

The line that's between the spokes isn't completely covered.
 The second is a build quality issue. On the top edge of the wheel (Where the nipples go into the wheel itself.) there is a seem where both sides of the carbon mold meet. If you run your hand along that edge you can feel that the clear coat over the carbon didn't completely cover. In other words it feels a little "fury". Now please understand that I am nit picking here. But for the plethora of US denero that Bontrager is asking people to lay down I think everything should be covered. Both literally and figuratively.

The Overview:

The Bontrager Aeolus 5 D3 wheels are some of the nicest I've ever ridden. They are stiff in the correct parts and forgiving in the others. They're beautiful to look at and give any bicycle that they adorn a certain "dub" bling. They give a noticeable aerodynamic advantage and great cornering ability. 

If you are the sort of person that wants the "best" and price be damned. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend these wheels as one of the sets that you should test ride.

Thanks for reading.

Rubber side down,

Big E